By David Villavicencio
Yasmani Grandal was in town this week to play against the Marlins, but the four-game set was not just another series for the Padres catcher.
A standout at the University of Miami from 2008-10, Grandal enjoyed playing at home in front of family and friends for a few days.
“It’s always good to come back here,” Grandal said. “I wish we could come back a couple of more times. It’s always good to come home.”
One of those friends Grandal spent time with while in Miami was Canes baseball head coach Jim Morris. Grandal enjoyed seeing his former coach, as well as some old teammates, at the ballpark this week.
“We had Coach Morris here the first game of the series,” Grandal said. “We talked about the program and he told me about the expectations for next year. It was fun to see him and catch up. There are also some guys that I used to play with them came this weekend and it was good to see them, too.”
After a stellar collegiate career, Grandal was a first-round pick in the 2010 MLB Draft. But the 24-year-old admits he was hoping to turn pro right out of high school.
Grandal was a 27th round pick in the 2007 MLB Draft, but could not come to terms with the Boston Red Sox. So the powerful switch-hitting catcher honored his commitment to the University of Miami
“If you didn’t get the amount of money you wanted, you went to college,” Grandal said. “That’s what I did and I think a lot of guys are doing that now with the slot draft. A lot of guys are going to school and that’s a good thing. I know it was for me.”
Grandal hit .401 with 15 homers and 60 RBI in his final season playing for the Canes. His on-field production and impressive tools enticed the Reds into selecting him 12th overall, but that may not have happened without the development he experience while at Miami.
“It definitely helped,” Grandal said. “I grew up not only as a person, but as an athlete. Obviously, you get there and work hard. I worked hard for three years and got drafted. If that doesn’t happen, you go back again and keep working, finish school and you have a back-up plan in case baseball doesn’t work out.”
Former #Canes baseball star Jon Jay will be in town this week. Here he is hitting a rope against Florida. #tbt
Former Hurricanes baseball star Ryan Braun is in town with the Brewers for a three-game series against the Marlins.
Braun did not play Monday night as he rested an ailing right hand injury. The 29-year-old hopes to avoid a trip to the disabled list and may miss the entire series as he tries to get his hand back to 100 percent.
While Braun did not participate in Monday’s 6-1 win over the Marlins, the Los Angeles native did spend time talking with HurricaneSports.com’s David Villavicencio about his three years in Coral Gables as a member of the Hurricanes baseball team.
Braun admitted the road trip to Miami is one of his favorites every season because it allows him to return to a city he loves.
“I love coming back here,” Braun said. “This is like LA for me because we only get to come once a year. There are a lot of great friends here and a lot of great memories. The weather is amazing. We haven’t had a lot of warm weather in Milwaukee so I think we will all enjoy this weather for a few days.”
Beyond spending time in great weather and reminiscing about the success he had as a member of the Hurricanes, Braun enjoys catching up with so many of the friends he made while in college.
“I see all my friends when I get here,” Braun said. “I enjoy seeing my friends when I come back.”
Miami head baseball coach Jim Morris is usually seen at the ballpark whenever one of his former players is in town to play against the Marlins. But Morris, who recently battled pneumonia, will likely stay home this week as he continues to recover from the illness.
“I talked to him about a week ago,” Braun said. “It was scary. It’s good to hear that he is doing a lot better now. It’s crazy when that comes out of nowhere. Hopefully he is getting past it and starting to get a lot better.”
Morris was one of several reasons why Braun chose to attend Miami. The California native could have played college baseball at nearly any program in the country, but Miami provided the perfect combination of things for Braun.
“When I took my recruiting trip here it just felt like such an amazing place,” Braun said. “It’s a great school academically, which not a lot of people give it credit for. It’s a private school. Socially, it’s a great experience coming down here. Athletically, baseball-wise, I knew we would be a Top 10 team every year.”
“I had the opportunity to play in two College World Series and it was an incredible experience,” Braun said. “It just felt right. I liked the coaches and it felt like it would be a special part of the college experience to get away from home for a couple of years.”
A two-time All-American that was named National Freshman of the Year in 2003, Braun has numerous accomplishments that stand out. But all of the on-field success was just a small part of what made Braun’s time as a Hurricane unforgettable.
“The friendships and relationships are by far the thing that I look back upon as the most enjoyable part of the time that I spent here,” Braun said.